From Petty Officer 2nd Class Tristan Lotz, Subase New London
GROTON, Conn. – Women in today’s U.S. Navy proudly serve alongside their male counterparts, with great opportunity ahead of them and a wake of history and perseverance behind them.
Women’s naval history officially starts in 1908 with the establishment of the Navy Nurse Corps. A contract nurse from the Spanish-American War named Esther Voorhees Hasson was appointed superintendent. Hasson was joined by 19 other women who together formed the “Sacred Twenty.” These women were the first to officially serve in the United States Navy.
The 20th century saw women make great strides in naval service. Manning issues in both World Wars compelled the Navy to open enlistment to women. The most famous example of this was the Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Services (WAVES), authorized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt with Public Law 689. The goal of the WAVES was to have women serving in shore positions so as to free up male service members for deployment in Europe or the Pacific.